Heritage status of the Basin Reserve

At the public meeting on Tuesday, a number of questions were asked about the heritage status of the Basin Reserve and the various buildings on the grounds. None of the speakers had the answers at their fingertips, but supporter Tom Robinson e-mailed yesterday to say that the Basin precinct is definitely listed on the Historic Places Trust register – there’s a listing for the Basin Reserve Historic Area, and another separate listing for the Basin Reserve Pavilion.

That’s great news – and the Save The Basin Reserve Trust will contact the Historic Places Trust to see if they have a view about the flyover.

Tip ‘o the black cricket cap to Tom.

Save The Basin Reserve campaign (and Mt Vic residents!) make the media

There has been some recent reportage of the Save The Basin Reserve campaign:

• TV3’s Sunrise programme conducted an interview with Kent Duston regarding the plans for the Basin on Wednesday 26 November.

• TV3 News covered the public meeting on Tuesday 25 November and gave some background on the campaign, including interviews with Kent Duston and Basin Reserve Trust chairperson John Morrison.

• Lindsay Shelton provides insightful commentary on the flyover and its Wellington context on Scoop.

• The debate about the flyover has been gathering steam on The Standard, with plenty of comments about the proposal.

• In its usual display of pro-roading boosterism, the Dominion Post completely fails to make any comment about the flyover, but runs an article on how delightful John Morrison’s “lipstick on a pig” stand will look!

• Alexandra Johnson from Whitireia takes a look at the flyover issue and the public meeting on Newswire.

We’ll add more media coverage as it occurs.

Well-attended public meeting passes resolution to defend the Basin Reserve

Tonight’s meeting at St Joseph’s was very well attended, with nearly 100 people packing the meeting room to hear Cr Iona Pannett, Kent Duston, Cr Celia Wade-Brown and MP Sue Kedgley speak about the impending danger to the Basin Reserve. The meeting heard that the project made no economic sense, would seriously degrade the environment at the Basin, and that much better alternatives were available at much lower cost.

A resolution was passed by the meeting:

“We oppose the construction of the flyover at the Basin Reserve, and that the Save The Basin Reserve Trust should use all legitimate public, political and legal avenues to encourage the responsible agencies to find a better solution.”

As can be seen from the photo, it was standing room only for attendees, who had a good view of the Basin Reserve from the western windows in the meeting room.

The PowerPoint presentation and the meeting handout are available below for download. These files were not originally intended for a Web audience, so they are quite large – sorry!

Save the Basin Reserve: Essential Information

While the savethebasin.org.nz website is under construction, we thought it was important to provide some information to everyone who wants to know exactly what the NZ Transport Agency and the Greater Wellington Regional Council have planned.

Q: So what are these government agencies planning?
A: The intention is to build an enormous concrete flyover across the northern face of the Basin Reserve linking the entrance to the Mt Victoria tunnel on the eastern side with Buckle Street on the western side – along with a series of onramps and offramps to enable traffic to flow around the Basin. This huge concrete construction will be around 10 metres tall, will cost (we estimate) more than $50 million, and will completely ruin the Basin Reserve as a sporting and cultural venue.

Q: I’ve heard this is necessary to accommodate growing traffic volumes …
A: Only if you believe the GWRC traffic modeling. The surveys conducted by the Mt Victoria community early in 2008 showed that around 70% of vehicles passing through the Mt Victoria tunnel at rush hour were single occupant – in other words, they were a single person traveling to and from work in the most inefficient way possible. We think that simple travel demand management and some re-phasing of traffic lights would achieve all of the goals of the flyover at a small fraction of the cost. And besides, the latest traffic surveys indicate that traffic volumes are falling, not rising.

Q: According to the Greater Wellington Council, the flyover has a positive economic impact
A: Again, you have to be drinking the traffic modeling Kool Aid to think that there is any positive economic benefit. The Council estimates that the cost of the project is around $35 million, but that’s before the inevitable cost over-runs. After all, the Inner City Bypass cost around double the original estimates, so there’s no reason to think that the flyover will be completed for anything like the figure being quoted. And given that the “benefits” were only marginally greater than the costs, the inevitable – and substantial – cost increases will mean the project never makes any economic sense.

So what will the impact on the Basin Reserve be?
The atmosphere at the Basin will be completely ruined by this project. As the flyover will be hanging about the fence-line, the traffic noise levels within the Basin will be around double what they are today, and spectators will be lucky to hear the sound of bat on ball at all. In addition, the pollution from the cars and trucks will be free to blow across the Basin in the prevailing northerly wind, so the environment will be much less pleasant for spectators and player alike – it will become significantly more polluted and noisy than it is today.

So what can I do?
Unfortunately the New Zealand Transport Agency and the Greater Wellington Regional Council have a long and illustrious history of brushing aside the concerns of local residents, and the Basin Reserve is no exception to this trend. Public consultation on the issue has been largely ignored, with 79% of submitters strongly opposed to construction of the flyover. However NZTA and the Council seem determined to push ahead anyway. So to prevent the Basin Reserve being ruined, here’s what you can do:

• Write to Fran Wilde, Chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, and let her know that you’re opposed to the loss of the Basin Reserve. Her postal address is c/- GWRC, PO Box 11-646, Wellington 6142.
• Contact you local MP and let them know that you’re unhappy with the loss of an iconic New Zealand cultural facility. You can find postal and e-mail addresses for your MP here.
• Call the New Zealand Transport Agency on 04 894 5400 and let them know you’d prefer cricket to boy racers and noisy trucks and the Basin Reserve, and that you don’t want your tax dollars wasted on pointless roading projects.

Public Meeting: Save the Basin Reserve, 7pm Tuesday 25 November at St Josephs

A public meeting is planned to save the Basin Reserve and to stop the flyover planned by the New Zealand Transport Agency (previously Transit) and the Greater Wellington Regional Council. This is the official campaign launch to stop the flyover.

All are welcome – come along and get involved with the campaign.

Tuesday 25th November 7:00pm
St Joseph’s Church
150-152 Brougham Street, Mt Victoria

The New Zealand Transport Agency is proposing that a destructive $33m flyover be built around the iconic Basin Reserve. If you want to save the Basin Reserve and protect the surrounding suburbs from its adverse effects, come along to the launch and get involved with the campaign.

For more information, contact:

Kent Duston kent[at]mtvictoria.org.nz or 021 536 873

Councillor Iona Pannett iona.pannett[at]wcc.govt.nz or 384 3382 or 021 227 8509

Editorial: Vote for Mt Victoria

New Zealand heads to the polls on Saturday, and in the flow of policy announcements, personalities and politicking, it’s worth looking at how our neighbourhood would be affected by the promises of the main parties.

In many ways, modern politics can closely resemble a Trade Me auction, with the major parties conducting a bidding war for the votes of different sectors of the community. Whether this is the best way to run a parliamentary democracy is left as an exercise for the reader; however it’s clear that there are some quite different choices facing the residents of Mt Victoria.

The Candidates
It seems reasonable to assume that the race in Wellington Central is largely between Grant Robertson (Labour) and Stephen Franks (National). While there are a large number of candidates in the electorate – as shown by the recent electorate debate at Crossways – most of the smaller parties are campaigning solely for the party vote, or have no believable chance of winning more than a few percentage points of support. Even the Green MP Sue Kedgley is not explicitly running as the local candidate in this election.

Grant Robertson
Mr Robertson assumes the mantle of retiring Wellington Central MP Marian Hobbs, and has already been involved with the Mt Victoria community at a local level. This was very apparent in the various discussions about the fate of the Crossways Creche, when he arranged a productive meeting with the Minister of Education to discuss possible funding options. While the discussions have come to nothing due to the Presbyterian Church’s decision to sell the original Crossways building against the wishes of the community, Mr Robertson provided tangible assistance and support to the Crossways campaign. It seems likely that his support of our community would continue should he be elected to Parliament as the local MP.

Stephen Franks
Mr Franks is a long-time local resident who has a stellar track record of involvement with the Mt Victoria Residents Association and many other local community activities. He has been supportive of the Crossways campaign, and is held in high esteem by many members of the community because of his many decades of service to our neighbourhood. It seems highly likely that we would have a strong representative for our community’s interests in Parliament should he be elected as the local MP.

The Policies
At the end of the day, however, politics is about much more than simply the personalities of the local MPs, and there are serious differences between the major parties when it comes to policies that would affect our neighbourhood.

Contentious Roading Projects
The National leader, Mr John Key, has announced substantial support for roading projects across the country, and a desire to fast-track their approval. This approach has been applied to projects in Auckland, Waikato and Tauranga, with some discussion even about fast-tracking more roads in smaller centres such as Nelson. It seems likely that this approach would be extended to the recently announced Basin Reserve flyover and the second tunnel through Mt Victoria, and it is apparent that a National government would make it much more difficult for local residents to object to these projects.

Under the Labour government, these projects have not been fast-tracked, but they have not been halted either. Leaving aside the concerns about climate change and the end of cheap oil – and therefore the wisdom of building more roads – the main impact on Mt Victoria will be the demolition of Paterson Street and the defacing of the Basin Reserve, and we will suffer more pollution, more noise, lower amenity values and lower property values if these projects proceed.

The only party opposed to more roading is the Greens.

Winner: The Green Party

Local Development
The Mt Victoria Residents Association has fought long and hard against poor development decisions in our neighbourhood, and this has been a defining attribute of the Association for many decades. The most recent example concerns Crossways, where there was significant community concern that a historic house could be sold to developers and then demolished to make room for an apartment building.

The National Party has announced policy that would make it easier for development to occur, and it would significantly weaken the provisions of the Resource Management Act. In addition, their proposed changes would make it harder and more expensive for local residents to oppose unwelcome development. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Crossways might well have been demolished had these changes been in place.

Any loosening of planning controls is likely to have a negative and long-term impact on the liveability of our community.

Loser: The National Party

There has been much discussion around the tax cut bidding war that seemed to be defining the election campaigns earlier in the year. However the global economic meltdown has now made a long and deep recession in New Zealand a near-certainty, and the impact on Mt Victoria could be significant.

Mr Key has announced a return of the razor gang of the 1990s, last seen when Ruth Richardson was Finance Minister, aimed at decreasing public sector spending. There is a growing body of evidence that this may not be a sound economic approach; however if these policies are implemented, the impacts on Wellington are likely to be dire. The last time public sector was aggressively cut, local unemployment rose steeply, pay rates for Wellingtonians fell, and property values plummeted. If you intend voting on the basis of simple economic self-interest, then the level of tax rates will be academic in this environment; the macro-economic damage to Wellington from the razor gang will more than outweigh the few dollars a week in lower taxes.

In comparison, Ms Helen Clark has announced that the $1 billion housing upgrade fund negotiated by the Green Party as part of the ETS negotiation will be brought forward if Labour is re-elected. This fund aims to insulate existing houses and help support the construction sector through environmental retrofits to our current housing stock. This policy makes a lot of sense in Mt Victoria; our houses are predominantly old, and around two thirds are tenanted. Warmer and drier houses will make a difference to the quality of life and the budgets of many local families, and the Labour policy of continuing government employment will make a big difference to job certainty in very uncertain times.

Winner: The Labour Party

Despite the proven local track record of Mr Stephen Franks – and despite the fact that he would undoubtedly make an excellent local MP – the policies of the National Party are likely to have heavily negative impacts for our neighbourhood. Our quality of life will be diminished by inappropriate large-scale roading projects, historic homes will be demolished to make way for tunnels and apartment buildings, and our incomes may well fall as unemployment rises.

The priority of this website is to promote the interests of our neighbourhood. For this reason, we are endorsing Mr Grant Robertson as the candidate for Wellington Central, and the parties of the Left – Labour and the Greens – for the party vote. We would encourage all residents to consider the impacts of party policies on our community when making their voting decision on Saturday.

Kent Duston

Crossways movie afternoon on Sunday 30 November

The New Crossways Community Trust is running another of its hugely popular movie afternoons on Sunday 30 November at 4pm, at the Paramount Theatre in Courtenay Place. This time it’s the Gaylene Preston documentary of one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed poets, Hone Tuwhare, who died at the beginning of this year.

The movie will be introduced by some readings of Hone’s poetry, and Gaylene will talk about the documentary and the man at the conclusion of the movie.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children, and can be purchased by e-mailing hone[at]mtvictoria.org.nz – and as usual, all proceeds will go towards running our new community centre in Roxburgh Street. The Paramount’s bar will be open for coffee, ice cream and drinks from 3:30pm, so see you there!


Every year the Mt Victoria Residents Association runs an inorganic rubbish collection in the neighbourhood, in conjunction with the hard-working staff from the Wellington City Council.

Patrick McCombs and Sue Watt from the Mt Victoria Residents Association working the trucks at last year’s inorganic rubbish collection.

This year the collection will be on Saturday 6 December. So collect up those broken bikes, rusting washing machines in the back shed and old bits of furniture, and get ready for MVRA and WCC staff to pick them up. A donation to the MVRA is expected for every item collected, and the funds go towards helping community activities.

And if you’d like to help on the day, send an email to mvra[at]mtvictoria.org.nz.